No BludgerTrack update this week as there were no new opinion polls, which might be an issue from time to time now that Essential Research has gone from weekly to fortnightly. Newspoll and Essential will presumably both report next week, followed by a week off for Easter. So in lieu of any polling to analyse, I offer one of my occasional updates on federal preselection action.
Most of this relates to Queensland, where a federal redistribution will formally take effect next week – not that you would notice, as my calculations at the time the draft was published last year found no seat’s margin had changed by more than 0.6%. Nonetheless, BludgerTrack will henceforth be using the post-redistribution margins for it seats result projections. Redistributions for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, which will each gain a new seat, and South Australia, which will lose one, are presently in their early stages, and are likely to be finalised around September.
• Following his appointment as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis’s Queensland Liberal Senate vacancy has been filled by Brisbane barrister Amanda Stoker. Stoker won a vote of the Liberal National Party state council from a field of 12, of whom the other reported frontrunners were Joanna Lindgren, who had a stint in the Senate after filling a casual vacancy in May 2015, but was unsuccessful as the sixth candidate on the LNP ticket in 2016; Amanda Camm, a Mackay regional councillor; Andrew Wines, a Brisbane City councillor; and Teresa Harding, director of the Queensland government’s open data policy and twice unsuccessful candidate for Blair. Stoker was a favourite candidate of religious conservatives, and emphasised the point by speaking at a pro-life rally on Sunday. In this she makes a contrast with Brandis, a noted moderate.
• Labor’s candidate to take on Peter Dutton in his Brisbane seat of Dickson is Ali France, a motivational speaker and former television producer who lost a leg in a car accident in 2011, whose father is former Bligh government minister Peter Lawlor. France is aligned with the Left, and won preselection ahead of the Right’s Linda Lavarch, former state Attorney-General and wife of Keating government Attorney-General Michael Lavarch, who cut Dutton’s margin from 6.7% to 1.6% when she ran in 2016. The redistribution has slightly improved Dutton’s position, increasing his margin to 2.0%. Since winning preselection, France has faced media scrutiny over her past pronouncements against offshore detention, which have since been removed from her social media accounts.
• The Cairns Post reports Elida Faith, of the Left faction Community and Public Sector Union, has won Labor preselection for the Cairns and Cape York Peninsula seat of Leichhardt. Faith first won endorsement to run as the Left’s candidate ahead of Tania Major, an indigenous youth advocate and former Young Australian of the Year, and Allan Templeton, an electrician. She then won the preselection vote over Richie Bates, a Cairns Regional Councillor and member of the Right. Leichhardt has been held for the Liberals and then the LNP since 1996 by Warren Entsch, except following his temporary retirement in 2007, after which the seat was held for a term by Jim Turnour of Labor.
• Jo Briskey, chief executive of parent advocacy organisation The Parenthood and a former organiser with the Left faction United Voice union, will be Labor’s candidate in the Brisbane seat of Bonner. Briskey won preselection ahead of Delena Amsters, a physiotherapist aligned with the Right. While Bonner is a naturally marginal seat, Labor’s only win since its creation in 2004 came in 2007, and it has at all other times been held by the present LNP incumbent, Ross Vasta.
• Anika Wells, a lawyer with Maurice Blackburn, appears set to succeed the retiring Wayne Swan in Lilley. Wells has Swan’s endorsement, and shares his alignment with the Australian Workers Union sub-faction of the Right.
• Zac Beers, former industrial painter and scaffolder and organiser for the Right faction Australian Workers Union, has been preselected for a second run at the central Queensland seat of Flynn, where he cut LNP member Ken O’Dowd’s margin from 6.5% to 1.0% in 2016. Beers won preselection ahead of Gordon Earnshaw, a worker for Bechtel Power Corporation.
• Andrew Bartlett, who filled the Greens’ Queensland Senate vacancy arising from Larissa Waters’ Section 44 disqualification last year, will seek and presumably win preselection in the lower house seat of Brisbane. This leaves the field clear for Waters to seek to recover her Senate seat. Brisbane has been in conservative hands since 2010, and has been held for the LNP since 2016 by Trevor Evans. Bartlett ran for the Greens in 2010, his first entry with the party after his former life as leader of the Australian Democrats.
Meanwhile in New South Wales, Labor has preselected its candidates for the Sydney seats of Banks and Reid, where it suffered historically unusual defeats in 2013 and 2016. In turn:
• The candidate in Banks will again be Chris Gambian, an official with the Left faction Community and Public Sector Union, who halved the 2.8% Liberal margin when he ran in 2016. The Australian reports Gambian won a preselection ballot ahead of Lucy Mannering, a lawyer and the ex-wife of former Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes, by 139 votes to 116, as adjusted by the affirmative action loading. The member for the seat is David Coleman, who became the first Liberal to win the seat since 1949 when he gained it in 2013.
• Labor’s candidate in Reid will be Sam Crosby, executive director of Labor think tank the McKell Institute. Crosby easily won preselection ahead of local branch member Frank Alafaci, by 120 votes to 19. Reid has been held by Craig Laundy since 2013, when he became the first Liberal ever to win the seat.